I'm an IT guy through and through, but I've had to sit through enough seemingly interminable marketing meetings to have developed a somewhat jaundiced eye towards them. To someone that actually produces things, the whole effort often appears to be useless make work blather with the end result being nothing more than a group think derived consensus to do exactly the wrong thing. For example, I was once invited to travel to corporate HQ to participate in a re-design of the marketing department's pet web site. I was there for the kick-off meeting, the goal of which was to develop a list of top-level requirements. It was to be an all day meeting, and the first hour was devoted to deciding whether or not the requirement “Easy to use” should be included. After 45 minutes of intense discussion, I ventured a question: “Is there anyone here advocating for the requirement that the site be difficult to use?”
I was not invited to any more of those meetings.
I didn't miss them.
This brings us to EA's NERF N-Strike Elite, a hybrid package containing a NERF gun and a Wii game. With my experience in the world of marketing, I can easily imagine the thought process at the table:
“Ok, let's start by defining our brand.”
“Really? Because you know we've been cranking these things out under the Nerf brand for quite a few years. Don't we have a pretty solid understanding of the appeal and target segments for the brand?”
“You are excused. Please allow the door to hit you on the way out.”
At the end of the meeting, they would have spent a number of hours re-affirming what they already know: Nerf guns appeal to persons of all ages because of their ease-of-use, relatively low chance of damage or injury being caused by negligent use, and low cost. With those bullets safely captured on a series of a dozen PowerPoint slides, they would have adjourned with the goal of reconvening in a few days to discuss ideas for broadening their penetration in the pre-teen segment.
And thus the idea for the Wii game / NERF gun combo pack was born.
The only shame is that the idea didn't die in the crib.
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